Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Christina D. Brown, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Lane, Ph.D.


The continued growth of the global aging population calls for further expansion and development of the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of older individuals living with borderline personality disorder (BDP), yet there is limited information regarding the impact of the disorder in later adulthood. The pivotal work of Erik Erikson, specifically his psychosocial stages of development, is a widely accepted conceptual framework for understanding human development including into older adulthood. During the late adulthood psychosocial stage of development, people experience a multitude of changes in relationships, work status, family, and what they define as meaningful. These changes can have a negative impact on the individual as well as their support system and can be particularly challenging for someone with BPD. Previous research suggests that symptoms of BPD remit or ‘burn out’ with age. However, due to the dynamic nature of BPD, individuals in late adulthood with BPD may be uniquely vulnerable to a re-emergence of symptoms that may have previously remitted. The crisis during this stage of development focuses on reflection of the individual’s life, their relationships, and finding acceptance. Individuals with borderline personality pathology often have a misconstrued self-evaluation preventing a realistic self-perception and often have relationships fraught with turmoil. The nature of the disorder may create a barrier for successful progression through the late adulthood psychosocial stage. The following critical literature review aims to provide an overview of current research and implications for treatment of individuals diagnosed with BPD in the late adulthood stage of life, as well as to explore the impact of BPD during this stage of development and how it impacts the resolution of the psychosocial crisis.

Available for download on Wednesday, July 24, 2024